Celebrating and Supporting Nurses: How to Prevent Burnout and Improve Retention in Long-Term Care

Nursing shortages continue to put stress on skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes. These shortages and the demanding nature of the job can cause burnout in healthcare workers, both physically and emotionally. Nearly three-fourths (73%) of 1,100 frontline workers were found to be at high or intermediate risk of this toxic stress, according to a recent study. This stress and burnout can lead to high nurse turnover within nursing homes.

Making sure your nurses are taken care of should be a top priority. It’s more important than ever to celebrate and support nurses, making sure they feel appreciated and have the resources they need to succeed. With the right strategies and tools in place you can help to prevent burnout and improve the retention of your nursing staff.

Understanding Burnout and Nursing Staff Retention in Long-Term Care Nursing

The elderly population is growing while at the same time, nurse availability and nursing staff retention is shrinking. LTC facilities are stretching their resources to ensure they have enough staff for their patients and to meet compliance requirements. Caregivers are feeling the increased demand put on skilled nursing facility staff — and they’re burning out, choosing to simply work elsewhere instead or leaving the industry altogether. This adds to the pressure — in effect, creating a self-fulfilling cycle.

The result: while many other sectors have seen increases in employment since 2020, nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities have seen an 8% decrease in labor availability over the same timeframe, according to AHCA.

The consequences of burnout and turnover can negatively affect quality of care, compliance requirements, and profitability, including:

  • Rushed care, neglect, or errors in medication administration
  • Delays in responding to emergencies
  • Higher costs for agency coverage or overtime
  • Failure to meet CMS regulations and federal staffing minimums
  • Decreased occupancy rates

Recognizing the Signs of Nurses and Burnout

To help reduce nursing staff turnover, it’s important to understand the common signs and symptoms of burnout including: 

  • persistent exhaustion and cynicism
  • less resilience to handle stressful situations
  • decreased sense of accomplishment

Burnout not only affects individual caregivers, it can also spread and affect your entire team, leading to decreased morale, diminished quality of care, and reduced productivity.

Recognizing the early signs of burnout is important, but getting in front of it before it escalates is key. Fostering a culture of well-being, resilience, and instilling a positive culture can help, as well as prioritizing the mental and emotional health of your nurses and offering great support resources.

Celebrating Nurses: Strategies for Leadership

Some of the ways to get in front of burnout is to make sure you your leaders are celebrating your nurse staff. Recognition awards, growth opportunities and a positive work environment can all contribute to celebrating your nursing staff.

  • Foster a Positive Work Environment: Create a more positive work environment in a skilled nursing facility or long-term care facility by implementing strategies that focus on employee recognition, upskilling opportunities, diversity and inclusion programs, and reducing nurse burnout through work/life balance initiatives.

  • Create Recognition and Appreciation Programs: Establish a formal recognition program to acknowledge and reward employees for their hard work and encourage peer-to-peer recognition where employees nominate and recognize their colleagues for outstanding contributions.

  • Offer Professional Development and Growth Opportunities: Offer training programs, workshops, and continuing education opportunities to enhance employees' skills, and support employees in obtaining certifications, licenses, or advanced degrees that can further their career progression.
  • Support Diversity and Inclusion: Implement diversity and inclusion training programs to educate staff members about the value of diversity, and promote a culture of respect, empathy, and understanding.

Supporting Nurses to Prevent Burnout

In addition to celebrating your staff, it is important to support them through various programs and. Staff that feel supported will want to stay and your facility and have a more positive outlook. 

  • Mental Health and Well-being Resources: Increasingly, the mental health of nurses is being prioritized as leaders in long-term care recognize the connection between staff well-being and patient care. Some of the mental health resources you can offer are access to counseling services and support groups, stress management workshops, as well as peer support programs and mentorship initiatives. These resources can help staff better deal with the emotional toll of their work in a supportive environment.
  • Provide Competitive Employee Benefits and Compensation: Comprehensive healthcare benefits like medical, dental, and vision insurance, 401(k) or pension plans, and options for flexible spending accounts (FSAs) or health savings accounts (HSAs) can offer major benefits for healthcare professionals. It could be the factor that keeps your teams happy, satisfied, and committed to your facility for the long haul.
  • Protect Work/Life Balance: Support flexible scheduling options and tools to accommodate employees' personal needs and encourage the use of paid time off (PTO) and vacation days to promote work/life balance and prevent burnout.
  • Provide Communication and Mobile Tools: Open and transparent communication between management and staff members is crucial. You can support this communication through regular meetings, newsletters, and electronic communication tools such as employee mobile apps that promote on-the-go access to schedules and important work documents.
  • Centralize Workforce Operations and Reduce Manual Work: Invest in technology solutions and automation tools to streamline manual tasks, which will reduce manual workloads and improve efficiency in daily operations. Workforce management and human capital management solutions like Smartlinx empower LTC facilities to centralize and automate various aspects of employee management, including scheduling, recruitment, time and attendance, payroll, and compliance.

Start Celebrating and Supporting Your Nursing Staff Today

Supporting and celebrating your nursing staff is vital — from protecting work/life balance and implementing recognition programs, to offering training and mental health programs, and reducing manual work – now is the time to start offering these resources if you haven’t already. By implementing these proactive programs, resources, and tools, you can help to reduce burnout and improve nurse staff retention within your skilled nursing and assisted living facilities.

Prioritizing your nurse staff is your key to success. Smartlinx is a healthcare workforce platform specifically designed to help long-term care industry solve their workforce challenges. Schedule a demo to find out more so we can help you to reduce burnout and retain nurse staff.

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